The disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant seven years ago — in which three of its six reactors suffered core meltdowns after a giant tsunami crippled its emergency power supply and cooling system — swept away the safety myth of nuclear energy in this country. Nearly 50,000 people of Fukushima Prefecture are still displaced from their homes today and the return of residents to areas around the plant remains slow even after evacuation advisories were lifted following decontamination efforts. These facts testify to the lasting damage that a severe nuclear power plant accident can have on people's lives.

A vast majority of citizens remain wary of the safety of nuclear power — just as they were right after the disaster. According to a recent media opinion survey, more than 80 percent of respondents said they remain concerned with the risk of severe accident at a nuclear power plant. More than 60 percent called for phasing out nuclear energy in the future, while another 11 percent demanded the immediate scrapping of all nuclear power plants.

The government's current energy policy, including the use of nuclear energy, doesn't appear to reflect popular sentiment and the changing reality surrounding nuclear power. The Abe administration and the power industry have pushed for the reactivation of nuclear reactors idled in the wake of the Fukushima accident once they have cleared screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority under safety regulations that were revamped to become what the administration has touted as the world's most stringent levels.